To unlock their growth potential, leaders must learn to delegate effectively. Defeat your resistance to delegation by learning what to delegate, to whom, and how. Through effective delegation, a leader can increase employee engagement while offering employees opportunities to build their careers.

Delegation is an essential leadership skill. Without being able to delegate responsibilities and eventually decision-making to others, leaders limit their potential for growth and career advancement.

A leader who eschews delegation in favor of doing will forever remain a strong individual contributor instead of an inspiration for reports and peers.

Delegation is one of the keys to successful leadership. 

Doers are valuable cogs in every corporate mechanism. They aren’t necessarily leaders, however. Leaders make things happen just like doers, though they are more efficient. They operate on a higher level, being essential for everything they oversee. But they’re not directly involved in everything.

Delegation allows leaders to:

  • Lighten their workload and free up time to lead by exploring opportunities and embracing change
  • Develop their reports by teaching them new skills and providing growth opportunities
  • Forward the interests of their organizations directly through their leadership skills and indirectly by making their reports more efficient and engaged.

Resistance to Delegation

Budding high-potentials often find it challenging to embrace delegation as a means of elevating themselves to leadership status. Understanding why they resist this necessary step may help them transcend their doer condition.

  • Highly involved doers may feel that by delegating, they pass off their responsibilities to someone else.
  • Some are reluctant to test the limits of their comfort zones. They are so good at what they do that they don’t want to move on to something else.
  • Some budding leaders crave involvement because they feel that they can do a better job than anyone else.
  • New leaders may feel that it takes them longer to explain how to complete an assignment than it would take them to complete it.
  • Some feel guilty to load the to-do lists of others.

Learning How to Delegate

It is a top priority for executive coaching to get leaders to delegate effectively. Delegation can cover anything from menial tasks to decisions. Not knowing what to delegate can be a serious hurdle for leaders.

What Should You Delegate? 

If you aren’t yet comfortable with delegation, put your tasks through a quick filter to determine which of them you can safely hand off to your reports.

Target your seemingly insignificant tasks first, together with the tediously repetitive and time-consuming ones.

Consider assignments at which you don’t excel. There may be an employee on your team who is better at that specific task than you.

As I have pointed out in my leadership coaching books, if you delegate decision-making, always honor your organization’s decision-making authority structure and the tenets of the organizational culture pertaining to decision-making.

Delegate to the Right Person

How can you maximize the power of delegation for the benefit of your organization and the employee to whom you delegate a task?

  • Make sure that the employee possesses the skills and appetite to handle the job in question. Letting your employees choose the tasks they get empowers them and builds trust within the team.
  • Strive to give your employees opportunities through delegation, assigning them jobs that play to their strengths and long-term goals.

Provide Clarity

Let your reports know why you delegate a job to them. Make available to them all the resources they need to complete the job, and give them clear instructions. Define the goals and your expectations clearly.

Clarity is essential for successful delegation. 

Steer clear of the micromanagement trap. Providing your employees with the right resources and instructions doesn’t mean that you have to tell them what to do step-by-step.

Leave Room for Failure

Failure is nothing but a stepping stone to success. Factor in failure when delegating, if not only to save yourself some disappointment should you happen to be a perfectionist.

By allowing failure, you leave room for your employees to experiment, come up with original solutions, and assume psychological ownership of the task.

Focus on Feedback and Praise

Ask for and provide feedback throughout the delegation process. Two-way communication eliminates misunderstandings and frustration. By providing constructive criticism, you give your team the chance to improve.

Don’t forget to commend your people for a job well done. Listen to the feedback your employees give you and take action based on it.

Proper delegation is a boon for companies, leaders, and employees. It establishes trust and increases engagement on all organizational levels. Coupled with leadership coaching, it opens the doors to leadership succession.

Check out my books if you want to learn the ins and outs of leadership and business coaching.


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